Accent on preventing cancers that are induced by risky lifestyle

February 4, observed as World Cancer Day, will see yet another attempt by cancer hospitals in the city to drive home the message of prevention and early detection. As in the previous years, this year too will see the medical fraternity making a fervent appeal against the use of tobacco in any form and against a lifestyle that makes the young and the old, including the women in the urban areas, more vulnerable to cancer. The focus is on prevention of cancers caused by lifestyle and early detection of those caused by genetic factors.

Tobacco ranks high among the factors and therefore needs an aggressive intervention to wean people from habits that can kill, say cancer specialists. At the same time, there is need for sensitisation on the harmful effects of junk food, they point out.

“They must be sensitised to the dangers and educated on safe food,” says Managing Director of Gem Hospital in Coimbatore and surgical gastroenterologist C. Palanivelu. Together, junk food and alcohol make a perfect recipe for disaster.

Director of Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology and Research P. Guhan says people should avoid fast food and have plenty of natural fruits and vegetables. Cancer in the food pipe/stomach is also caused by regular and excessive intake of pickles and other food items that are high on preservatives, especially high content of salt.

Over the last 10 years, there is an increase in the number of adeno carcinoma cases. This has to be attributed to food habits. Gastro Esophegus (Oesophegus) Reflux Disease was known as an American disease nearly 15 years ago.

It is very much in India now and the cases are large in number. The upsurge of acid can leave the food pipe with ulcers that can turn cancerous if left untreated, Dr. Palanivelu explains. Regular intake of alcohol can aggravate the condition.

Adeno carcinoma sets in now around the age of 30 in such cases, as against 50 or 60 two decades ago, he says.

Advocating safe food, he says food rich in fibre content can help in avoiding constipation that can, in the long run, cause colon cancer.

Dr. Palanivelu suggests that education on these types of cancers and the importance of safe food must begin with school students. “Because, this section is almost completely into junk food now,” he laments.

Dr. Guhan warns that it would be fatal to assume that genetic predisposition is the major factor in all types of cancer. “Very few cases are because of the genetic factor and the bulk of these are among women. Cancers are mostly habit-induced in men, with tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food being the major factors.

“The World Health Organisation has called for the observance of cancer day as it predicts that cancer will be the major killer between 2015 and 2020, after road traffic accidents,” says Dr. Guhan.

Almost all lung cancer cases in men are caused by smoking. Very few are caused by occupational hazards – exposure to carcinogenic substances.

Director of Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Kovai Medical Center and Hospital V. Kannan says health workers are at a risk of Hepatitis B infection and liver cancer. They must be vaccinated against it.

Touching upon the urban scenario, Dr. Kannan says that according to the Madras Metropolitan Cancer registry lung and stomach cancers top the list among men, forming 10 per cent each (among all types of cancers). Breast cancer (27 per cent) has overtaken incidence of cancer of the cervix (22 per cent).

Uterine cervix cancer can be prevented with vaccination (against HPV virus) for girls when they are 11 or 12 years old.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 11:13:01 PM |

Next Story